Originally created 08/13/02

Voters examine new machines



Soon voting will be as simple as the touch of a finger.

The days of turning pages, punching holes and losing votes will be gone.

That was the message Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox brought to Columbia County on Monday night with a demonstration of the state's new electronic voting machines.

"What you are seeing before you is the future of voting," she said, pointing out a flat computer screen device to a group of about 30 people at the Augusta Jewish Community Center in Evans. "We in Georgia will be the first in the nation to put this into place."

The new machines, she explained, will be in every Georgia precinct for demonstration use at the Aug. 20 primary. They will replace current voting machines - punch cards, lever machines and pencil scan cards - in the Nov. 5 general election.

"You just touch the name you want to vote for, and it lights up," she said. "If you make a mistake, you can go back."

Mrs. Cox said the new devices are the result of the 2000 presidential election, noting that the state had 94,000 presidential votes that went uncounted.

The goal now is to educate voters.

"People need to see the (new) machine and touch it," she said.

After using the device Monday, Claire Browning of Augusta said she likes the change.

"It's fantastic," she said. "You don't have to turn any pages."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904.